With a whimsical maritime theme, this is a place we go almost more for the atmosphere than the drinks. Just a stone’s throw away from Sangsu station and conveniently close to (or just far enough away from) the noisy Hongdae streets, Whale Pub is a cozy refuge with adorable posters and playful home brews.
Whale Brewing Company is one of many small Korean breweries, and this is their own pub. They’ve got a couple of beers on tap, including their signature Pale Whale as well as guest taps and a load of other drinks, like whisky, tequila, wine and cocktails. In other words, this is not a purebred craft beer pub, but rather a dark and casual place to grab a drink with friends if you find yourself tired of the noisy Hongdae streets.
Starting off from a basic maritime theme, with anchors and boat accessories, the Whale Pub interior has grown to be a maximalist treasure chest where your eyes can endlessly meander from artifact to artifact. We do suspect the Halloween decorations are all-year (our visit was in April), but they don’t exactly stand out anymore, and go well with the overall theme of “anything goes”.
We got a set sampling all the available Whale Taps, which are only four at our time of visit. Their signature Pale Whale is a straight-forward and enjoyable pale ale, bready with an initial carbonated bite. Next up was their Toucan Stout, which while dark and a tad smokey came of as a little daft, but ok. The Whale IPA is a classic IPA, a little dry and hoppy, an easy and safe choice we’ve made many times here. Sadly there is no whale-pun for the Weizenbock, which is a sweet and fruity light white ale with a prominent flowery bitterness.
The two pale ales stood positively out amongst the house beers, and are easygoing craft beers we have had many times, especially during the hot Korean summer. When the weather is warmer the large windows are normally opened, shifting the atmosphere towards a rooftop party. Add to that music that is better than most similar places, with modern pop and classic funk and soul! Whale Pub understandably fills up in the weekends, becoming a bit loud, but remains a cozy and dimly lit pub with many returning customers.